The season of pink is upon us again! October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and thousands of businesses and employees will take part in awareness campaigns.
Why? Because cancer isn’t just a health issue; it’s a business issue. Consider these statistics:
- Health-related productivity losses cost U.S. employers around $225 billion annually (Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine).
- Studies estimate that 36 percent of employees don’t return to work following treatment for cancer (Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, February 2011).
- According to the American Cancer Society, cancer-related disease accounts for 1 percent of a typical employer’s health care claims, but 10 percent of health care costs.
One in eight women will be diagnosed.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, regardless of race or ethnicity. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime, and it’s the second leading cause of death among women. Although early detection can boost survival rates to as high as 88 to 93 percent, breast cancer still accounts for about a quarter of all cancer occurrences in women in the U.S.
Luckily, there is some good news. Death rates from breast cancer have declined since 1990 thanks to increased awareness, better screening, early detection, ongoing research and evolving treatment options.
If you haven’t made an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer among your employees, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the ideal opportunity to start the dialogue. Here are a few ideas:
- Workplace activities. There are many ways you can promote awareness among your staff. Consider providing information on self-breast exams, dietary strategies and the nearest places to have mammograms. You may also want to sponsor promotional giveaways and events, a Pink T-Shirt Day, a matching donation campaign, or some type of community involvement.
- Partner with a national organization. Organizations such as the American Cancer Society and Breastcancer.org offer a wide range of programs and corporate partnership possibilities including valuable information, gifts, grants, product and content collaborations, HR support, and more. You could even have one of these organizations participate in an event at your office.
Whatever you do, don’t stop communicating when October ends. Why not make cancer awareness a permanent part of your overall workplace wellness initiatives?
You may already promote healthy choices and positive lifestyle changes through workplace wellness initiatives. And since those initiatives are touting the benefits of exercise and nutrition – two vital ingredients in cancer prevention – it makes perfect sense to integrate cancer awareness into those efforts.
More than one-third of all cancers are related to modifiable lifestyle factors that include lack of physical activity, poor dietary practices and tobacco use. Prevention initiatives such as regular screenings and tobacco cessation programs are proven methods of decreasing the risk of cancer among employees, increasing early diagnosis and increasing overall cost savings.